The President said “one nation, simultaneous elections” was the need of the hour “which would facilitate accelerated development”. “With such a system in place, all political parties, according to their respective ideologies, will be able to better utilise their energy towards development and public welfare,” he said. He said the government “wants to make the people conscious, capable, well-provided and unfettered to such an extent that that they do not feel the “burden, force, or absence” of the government in their daily lives. The Opposition termed the President’s speech disappointing. They said the speech did not address key issues facing the economy – of economic slowdown and 45-year high rate of unemployment. Congress leader Anand Sharma said the promise to double farmers’ incomes would take over 40 years to achieve if agricultural growth rate continued between the existing 2.5 and 2.9 per cent, and demanded that the BJP stop its attempts at destabilising Congress-run state governments. Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the “one nation, one election” was impractical and meant to distract from real livelihood issues of the people.
In his speech, the President said work was “underway in full earnest to transform India into a global manufacturing hub”. He said the government’s goal was to have India among the top-50 countries of the world in the “Ease of Doing Business” rankings. “In order to achieve this, the process of simplification of rules will be further expedited in collaboration with the states. In this sequence, necessary amendments are also being brought in the Companies Law,” Kovind said. He said taxation regime plays an important role in accelerating economic development. “Along with continuous reforms, simplification of taxation system is also being emphasized,” the President said. Kovind said indirect tax system is being made simple and effective. “With the implementation of GST, the concept of ‘one country, one tax, one market’ has become a reality.
Efforts to further simplify the GST will continue,” he said. The President said India is currently among the fastest growing economies in the world. “Inflation is low, fiscal deficit is under control, foreign exchange reserves are growing and the impact of ‘Make In India’ is clearly visible,” he said.
The President said the objective was to make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024.
He repeated several of the promises the BJP has made in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The President said under the ‘Bharatmala Project’, construction or upgrade of about 35,000 kilometers of National Highways is to be undertaken by 2022. He said the government would invest Rs 25 trillion in rural areas in the coming years to improve agricultural productivity.
The President spoke of the government’s vision for the 112 “aspirational districts” in the country and their 115,000 most backward villages. He said the government will increase the disbursal of loans under the Mudra scheme from 190 million to 300 million people. Kovind said the government has the goal to establish 50,000 start-ups in the country by 2024.
He indicated that the government’s commitment to ensure the passage of the “triple talaq” Bill, and push laws to ban “nikah-halala”.